Lincoln R. Pickett, Appellant-Defendant,
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.
from the Lawrence Superior Court. The Honorable Michael A.
Robbins, Judge. Trial Court Cause Nos. 47D01-1601-F6-105
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Jennifer G. Schlegelmilch Deputy
Public Defender Lawrence County Public Defender Agency
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana Ian McLean Supervising Deputy Attorney General
SHARPNACK, SENIOR JUDGE.
of the Case
Charged under one cause number with a count of Level 6 felony
obstruction of justice,  one count of Level 6 felony abuse of a
corpse,  two counts of Class A misdemeanor false
informing,  and one count of Class A misdemeanor
failure to report a dead body,  Lincoln Pickett was additionally
charged, under a separate cause number, with one count of
Level 4 felony unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious
violent felon,  and one count of murder.
In this interlocutory appeal under both cause numbers,
Pickett challenges the trial court's denial of his motion
to bifurcate the proceedings to prevent the jury from hearing
evidence of his prior conviction-Class C felony
escape-potentially qualifying him as a serious violent felon
("SVF") if he was in possession of a firearm. We
reverse and remand.
The dispositive issue in this appeal is whether the trial
court erred by denying Pickett's motion to bifurcate the
and Procedural History
On January 24, 2016, Kathy Riggle reported to the Mitchell
Police Department that her daughter, Kamie Ratcliff, also
known as Kamie Brashear, was missing. Mitchell Police Officer
Matt England received information that Kamie might be staying
with Pickett and Jasmine Pickett at their home in Mitchell,
Indiana, and followed up on that information. Eventually the
State filed charges against Pickett under the two cause
numbers which the court later consolidated for trial. Citing
both cause numbers, Pickett moved to bifurcate the trial,
with Phase I addressing all charges save for the SVF
allegation, with Phase II addressing the SVF charge, alleging
his prior conviction of escape.
The State opposed Pickett's motion, successfully gaining
permission to amend the information to allege that Picket was
charged with unlawful possession of a firearm in violation of
Indiana Code section 35-47-4-6. The State also proposed an
instruction based on Indiana Pattern Jury Instruction
(Criminal) 7.2740. The proposed instruction, rather than use
the term "possession of firearm by serious violent
felon", designates the offense as "possession of
firearm in violation of I.C. 35-47-4-5" and indicates
that Escape is the prior conviction in question in this case.
Citing Spearman v. State, 744 N.E.2d 545
(Ind.Ct.App. 2001), the State argued that the amendment to
the information and the proposed instruction, deleting any
reference to the term "serious violent felon, "
would sufficiently reduce any prejudice to Pickett's
defense that might be caused by the jury hearing about a
prior, qualifying conviction. The trial court denied
Pickett's motion, and this interlocutory appeal ensued.
Both parties agree that our review of the trial court's
decision on the issue of bifurcation is for an abuse of
discretion. See Hines v. State, 794 N.E.2d 469,
470-71 (Ind.Ct.App. 2003), adopted by Hines v.
State, 801 N.E.2d 634 (Ind. 2004). An abuse of
discretion occurs when the trial court's ...